The 10 things I learned from 8 years traveling around the world

Quitting a job to travel isn’t for everyone. I’ve been traveling off and on for about eight years now, and as any traveler can tell you: the lessons you can learn from traveling are some of the most valuable ones. I balance my time between my home life, which includes my job and time with my loved ones, with my adventures abroad and domestically in the United States. One of the benefits of traveling is that I never need to stop planning for and looking forward to my next adventure. Here are just some of the things I’ve learned on my journeys.

Things I learned from Traveling around the worlds
Things I learned from Traveling around the worlds

Things I learned from Traveling around the worlds

1. Budgeting is essential

Budgeting is Essential - Things I learned from Traveling Around the Worlds
Budgeting is Essential – Things I learned from Traveling Around the Worlds

We have a household budget that we stick to, including saving up for future trips. If we’re at a point where we can’t justify more than a couple of trips per year, we focus more on saving for the big ones or exploring places in neighboring states to keep us satisfied. 

Traveling during the off-season is a great way to save money and opt for cheaper reservations and flights, so we like to take advantage of those deals. Research is vital to sticking to a budget and ensuring that you don’t blow it all in just a couple of days.

2. Traveling doesn’t have to be full-time

While some people can make a living by traveling, I cannot. I have responsibilities at home, and I would miss my loved ones too much to stay abroad all the time. The great thing about traveling is that I don’t have to do it all the time. I can plan for a big trip once or twice a year, and it’ll give me something to look forward to while also allowing me to enjoy my time at home and make money that can fund those travels.

If you’re worried about making money while you’re on the road, you might choose more infrequent trips to start out with. Maybe a once-a-year trip to a foreign country is a more realistic option for you than it is for me. You can enjoy one trip outside the country per year just as much as you would several trips within the country.

3. It’s okay if others don’t understand

Not everyone will understand why you prioritize travel or how you make it such a big part of your life. I used to worry that people would think I was irresponsible by going on more trips, but ultimately, I realized it’s what makes me happy. Why would I worry about the opinions of people who do not affect my life? Personal happiness leads to more kindness and helpfulness, as well as minimizes conflicts. The sooner you realize you’re only responsible for your own happiness, the more free you’ll feel.

4. It pays to be organized

I always research everything I need to know before traveling abroad. While having a budget is important, one of the most important things a person can learn from traveling is how to organize your trip to the fullest. 

I love packing cubes, as it’s an easy way to keep outfits together without having to dig through my entire suitcase for something. Similarly, I keep a folder with hard copies of the papers I need for flying or as a hotel confirmation, even though most things are done digitally nowadays.

5. Take advantage of downtime

Usually, I try to travel during times of the year when I wouldn’t be working or have other opportunities. Traveling around the holidays is a given for most people who live away from their families, and I like to take those opportunities to explore places between Point A and Point B. We might stop somewhere, like a local restaurant, to support the community. Alternatively, we might go off the beaten path a bit to explore a more scenic route. I make the most of my travels whenever I can, even if I don’t plan on leaving the United States.

Another great time for me to travel is when I feel bored. There have been times when I was in between jobs where I had so many opportunities to get up and go. Life can offer so many opportunities and so much inspiration — like how a person with an injury preventing them from working may be able to take a vacation while on workers’ compensation, depending on the case and when medical appointments are. Examining your personal situation is crucial to planning travel, whether it’s years out or last minute. 

6. Draw up itineraries

Things I learned from Traveling
Things I learned from Traveling

To make the most of travel, you must choose what to prioritize. If you’re like me, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the decisions that come with traveling. Planning out every meal can feel excruciating, but one of the benefits of traveling and planning is that I can better understand my finances. If I know I will spend a certain amount on a fancy dinner, that leaves X number in the budget for other meals. It might influence the activities I plan for that day.

An itinerary can give you a better idea of how your vacation can go. I’m a pretty adventurous person, so I like going out and experiencing things, like hiking for the best views or sailing off to watch the sunset. Still, I don’t expect myself to have those kinds of adventures every day. I still make time to rest, shop and enjoy the sights. When I know I have a break coming up in my itinerary, it reminds me to enjoy every moment that I’m active.

7. Unplug — it’s for the best

I can spend time on my phone at home. While I’m in a new place, I try to pry myself away from the online world. One of the most difficult lessons to learn from traveling is that you don’t need to be available to everyone all of the time. Establishing boundaries with my loved ones about what contact they can expect from me, especially in group chats where I know people will miss my input, is crucial to ensuring I enjoy my time away and make the most of my destination. I also notice I’m much happier without my phone constantly in my hand.

8. Give back while you’re there

Some of the best places to visit on vacation are the ones without much advertisement. Local stores can hide so much wonder, so I always love to visit them. I try to avoid chain restaurants when traveling abroad to learn more about the culture and invest in the community rather than a big corporation. Your favorite place might just be locally owned and operated! Though Starbucks abroad is always tempting to me, I remember there’s a Starbucks I can visit as soon as I get home — but there won’t be the variety of restaurants I have in front of me!

9. Working from anywhere is cool

Things I learned from Traveling
Things I learned from Traveling

Being able to work from anywhere is the best flex when you want to travel often. While you may miss out on certain things during the day due to your working schedule, you can stay on your vacation longer to experience everything you want. I love making money by being a digital nomad, as the only thing standing in my own way of traveling is me. There are over 15 million digital nomads in the United States as of 2021, so plenty of other people have found the freedom to work from anywhere.

If you want to save your abroad travels for your vacation time, you’ll love to know that working from anywhere includes domestic travel. I often go to visit friends and relatives while bringing my work setup with me. That way, I get to spend time with my loved ones in my off-hours, and if necessary, I’ll bring the equipment on a nearby vacation so I don’t have to take a long weekend. A work-from-anywhere job is convenient and a must-have for anyone who wants to travel more.

10. Take lots of photos

Pictures are memories that will last a lifetime. You don’t have to plaster them all over social media to cherish them. I keep my photos separated in albums on my phone, which I can then look back on and smile at. I’ve also been playing with the idea of uploading them to a website to create a hardcover book out of memories of that trip. Life won’t be the same forever, and travel will only get more physically difficult as you get older. It’s best to cherish the memories now, both behind and in front of the camera.

Go where the wind takes you

One of the first things I learned about travel is that anything is possible as long as you dedicate yourself to it. You might have to work harder for time to afford what you want, but by taking advantage of certain deals and rewards, the vacation of your dreams can be right in front of you. I enjoy every moment of my travels, both domestic and international, and when I can’t travel, I look forward to planning my next trip. 

One of the benefits of traveling is that you can get back home and start planning all over again. The best chance to explore the world is right in front of you — you just have to do it in a way that fits into your life.

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